• Noelle Leavitt Riley, Craig Daily Press managing editor
• Renee Campbell, Craig Daily Press general manager
• Amy Fontenot, Craig Daily Press office/circulation manager
• Randy Looper, owner of the Elk Run Inn
• Amanda Field, Wells Fargo home mortgage consultant in Craig (absent)
• Ken Wergin, retired
We were very disappointed to hear that Safeway — a company that’s been in Craig since 1929 — decided to close its Craig store. The business will shut its doors Oct. 12.
The economic impact of this decision could be devastating for Centennial Mall and other businesses housed around Safeway. Additionally, Craig will lose its only Starbucks.
We’d like to take this negative news and try to turn it into a positive. We’ve brainstormed various ways the city can weather Safeway’s closure. The grocer occupies a 38,000-square-foot building that will become an eyesore in Craig if it’s not used by another entity.
Therefore, we have several proposals for the space that we’d like the city of Craig, the Economic Development Partnership and residents to consider:
• The building is large enough to house a community recreation center. Although the city doesn’t have money in its budget to renovate the space into a well-equipped rec center, we wonder if there’s a creative way to fund such a project. We don’t think that raising taxes for a rec center is a good idea, but perhaps there’s another way.
• Another idea is for the Economic Development Partnership to draft a solid plan on how to recruit a department store such as Kohl's — or a low-cost clothing store like Bealls — to the area.
• Maybe a natural grocer is another idea to consider.
• Additionally, the building could be divided into several retail spaces for businesses.
We just want to see something happen with the building, and we’d like to see it happen fast. The EDP could be a wonderful driver for recruitment. The fact is, whatever kind of shopping that Craig doesn’t have, consumers will go out of town to buy those goods.
If a rec center doesn’t make sense for that building, than let’s find a store that offers merchandise that targets a small community. We propose that the EDP and city of Craig seriously think and plan for something wonderfully successful to fill that space. That’s our hope. We’re open to more ideas, and we hope that the vacancy in the store is temporary.